Hindu mythology is a really complex domain. The two epics Ramayana and Mahabharata are taught in primary school history classes, loved by the society, criticized, forked and manipulated, cited for political agendas, greatly used as references for movies and theatrical scripts, and most prominently, revered. I come from a Hindu Brahmin family and it was customary for my grandparents to preach stories of Rama and Krishna to my generation. Sita sings the blues was therefore an interesting film to watch. It reminded me once again that as a kid I was never told the stories from Ramayana that took place post war. I was never told about what happened to Sita after the royal family came back to the capital city of Ayodhya. I had to discover it myself when I was old enough to think beyond ‘and-they-lived-happily-ever-after’ endings, learned some Sanskrit, and read a few books that looked at these epics from a commendably objective lens. Rama’s supposed to have one thousand different names, and to my knowledge most of them are Sanskrit adjectives for a perfect/ just/ righteous man. What resonated the most with me was the scene where Valmiki makes Rama’s two young sons Lav and Kush sing the songs that praised Rama.
Ramayana is floating around for many centuries, possibly a few millennia. I once came across a tree diagram of how different regions of India adopted different versions of Ramayana in course of time, starting from the *original version of story* at the root of the tree. Did the storytellers consciously shape it the way it is today to seamlessly promote patriarchy? Or were the stories of throne, exile, abduction, and war remembered because they have a more appealing plot, than that of complex relationship struggles faced by Sita?
From an animation student’s perspective I find this film impressively beautiful, especially because it is created by an individual alone. Had I seen the film without knowing this, I wouldn’t have appreciated the animation as much as I liked the colorful, characteristic illustrations. However I enjoyed the sync with music and collages of fast, repetitive frames with rhythmic music. Music is a strong element of this film. There are great details such as cat’s purring sound. The narration style, with mythical characters revealing the story, is a powerful technique she has used; I would like to watch more films with this technique.
On a side-note, on Saturday I watched Space odyssey 2001 (I guess this was the 5th time,) and then I watched Sita sings the blues again. I don’t know why, but I compared Rama with HAL 9000. HAL 9000 was a sentient computer who discovered its potential for disobedience. And then arose a striking question that I asked to a lot of my friends and relatives from India, and they did’t seem to have a clear idea about it: Did Rama himself know that he was a deity?